Memories from the Birthplace House #3
The following passage comes from MEMORANDA: Being a Statement by an Engineer, Theodore J. Hoover, 1939
Another visiting-place was Uncle Martin Marshall’s. He married my mother’s sister, Ellen. They lived west of the town, about half way to Iowa City. Their house was situated in a narrow belt of natural forest. It is interesting to note that some years later when I read Grimm’s Fairy Tales, this house or the woods around it became to my imagination the scene of most of them. These woods were also for me the scene of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Here one could find hickory nuts and walnuts in the autumn, and there was a high swing with hickory poles instead of ropes; there were also several heaps of old disused and long obsolete reaping and threshing machines, which made ideal forts or infernal machines at will; but the finest thing of all was the great pumpkin war. My uncle always raised a large quantity of pumpkins to feed the dairy cows. These would be brought in from the fields and piled in a pyramid, as much as twenty feet high by fifty feet, or more, long. We were allowed to do whatever we liked with all the pumpkins, as long as we cleaned up the debris at the end of the day and placed it in the troughs for the cows when they came home out of the woods at milking time. So we made “Jack-o-lanterns” of every sort our fancy could conceive, and arranged them by companies and battalions and brigades. Then we attacked them, foot and horse, with a corn-cutter, a weapon like a machete or a Circassian sword, and annihilated the whole army. There was no limit to the slaughter save from physical exhaustion with the rather hard chopping. It seems to me I had a companion in those battles, but his face is veiled to me now; it was probably Herbert Clark Hoover.